Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Greens, greens, greens, greens

I just checked into the likely weekly haul from my CSA, there it includes broccoli rabe and collards. Most weeks the we get greens of some kind: when we are really lucky, lacinato kale, otherwise, things like chard of which even I get tired pretty quickly. I love greens, but not everyone in my family does. With a very few exceptions, like Northern Indian collards with mustard oil, they particularly don't like them long cooked. And, besides, who wants to spend the better part of an afternoon overcooking a veg? So here are three quick alternatives, based on the Brazilian greens served with feijoada, the black bean and meat stew. It is best with greens of the kale and collard family. I got the base recipe from a friend who learned it from his brother's Brazilian partner. They are best with younger greens (I especially like Russian kale here), but if shredded finely enough, they can be used with the tougher greens as well. Any of the kales work well, as do collards, chard, etc.

Brazilian greens
  1. Wash the greens well, and trim the leaves off the tough stems.
  2. Stack the greens and roll them sort of like a cigar. Cut into shreds with a very sharp knife. It the greens are old and tough, make the shreds very fine, like 1/8 inch or less. It really doesn't take that long.
  3. Heat some olive oil in a large skillet on medium and add very thinly sliced garlic. For a medium bunch of greens, I would use 4 cloves. Cook, stirring, but don't brown, and then add the greens.
  4. Stir the greens and the garlic together (if the garlic is left on the bottom it might burn), salt well, turn heat to high. Stir fry about 5 minutes until bright green. If the greens are still to tough for you, turn heat down, cover, and cook until tender to your liking. (They should still be bright green.)
  5. This is nice served with black beans, rice, and oranges cut into eighths for a vegetarian dinner. I will post a decent vegetarian black bean dish one of these days. This also took much longer to write than it does to prepare.

Variation #1: vaguely Asian: Use peanut or vegetable oil. Instead of salt, use about a teaspoon or more of Bragg's Aminos. This is an odd soy product that claims to be gluten free. In large bottles, it has both kosher certification and a New Testament reference on the label. It also comes in small spray bottles with a few ounces which seem to last long enough. It is basically a soy sauce substitute, but it is delicious, and tastes to me like a vegetarian version of Southeast Asian style fish sauce, and is great with sauteed greens of all kinds. (Try it with bok choy or napa as well as the kaley collardy ones in the recipe above.) One day I am going to try using it to make a vegetarian version of Vietnamese sweet fish sauce.

Variation #2: vaguely Mexican: Follow the original recipe, but add a small chopped onion, salt lightly, and cook until soft but not brown. Then add the garlic, cook briefly and add the greens. When the greens are nearly done to your liking, add a half to a whole diced, seeded pickled jalapeno pepper, the kind available (whole) in jars and cans and in Spanish as jalapenos en escabeche. Add more or leave the seeds in if you want it really hot. Then finish it off with a half to a full teaspoon of the pickled chili juice just before you turn off the heat. Pickled chili juice is an under appreciated culinary treasure, essential to a good salsa Veracruzana, and it makes a great addition to many sauteed dishes and salads. You might try a similar seasoning with sauteed green beans. If the jalapenos come in a can, transfer to a jar, and it will keep almost forever in your fridge.


  1. Mmm...I love collards cooked all Brazilian-like. And I'm quite curious about green beans in a vaguely Mexican setting. However, I'm afraid to eat kale in any other manner than raw. Am I really missing out?

  2. Funny, I had never eaten raw kale until I made the lacinato kale salad (posted in an August 2 entry). Kale soup is a classic -- one day I will post my pork-free version. It is also really good quick cooked, and I think responds even better than collards. For this, I would usually use Russian kale or the curly kind, and save the lacinato for salad, or long cooking with beans.

  3. I think a pork-free kale soup would be the place for me to start...I look forward!

  4. I make it with smoked turkey sausage and spanish smoked sweet paprika. I will post the recipe the next time I make it -- I haven't made it since around March, and didn't write down the recipe. It could probably also be made vegetarian.